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Innovations in Small Businesses and Sustainability

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2021) | Viewed by 29219

Special Issue Editors


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Guest Editor
Ege University, Faculty of Engineering, Turkey
Interests: innovation management; open innovation; university–industry collaboration; entrepreneurship

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Guest Editor
Gdansk University of Technology
Interests: innovation management; knowledge management; sustainability

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

It is generally acknowledged that innovation is one of the key tasks to enhance the competitiveness and organizational performance of companies, irrespective of the size of the company. To ensure lasting success, any organization should have a systematic and continued approach to managing innovation. This applies, in particular, to smaller businesses who, because of their typical limitations, have to work with more care. At the same time, small businesses today face an increasing number of challenges. The topic of sustainability is one of them. The Network for Business Sustainability reported a number of challenges that smaller firms see in conjunction with sustainability, like how the benefits of sustainability activities can be quantified, or how they can more effectively manage requests from foreign markets regarding responsible procurement.

In this Special Issue, we encourage scholars and practitioners to share their findings and insights on how innovation contributes (or can contribute) to the opportunities and challenges provided by sustainability. Considerable attention has already been devoted to sustainability in large companies, however this is not the case with smaller firms. This Special Issue will make a contribution to changing that. Papers adopting different theoretical lenses and worldviews, using different research methods, analysing different types of smaller firms and exploring the topic in different countries are strongly encouraged.

Prof. Dr. Susanne Durst
Prof. Dr. Serdal Temel
Dr. Malgorzata Zieba
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2400 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Sustainability and its importance for small businesses
  • Environmental sustainability and innovations
  • Economic sustainability and innovations
  • Social sustainability and innovations
  • Sustainable strategies for small businesses
  • Assessment of sustainable activities in small businesses
  • Role of innovation in small firms’ business sustainability
  • Assessment of sustainable innovations
  • Responsible innovation and its impact on business sustainability
  • Sustainable innovations in small businesses for improved relationships with different types of stakeholders

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

16 pages, 720 KiB  
Article
Determinants of a Firm’s Sustainable Competitive Advantages: Focused on Korean Small Enterprises
by Sora Lee and Jaewon Yoo
Sustainability 2021, 13(1), 346; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13010346 - 2 Jan 2021
Cited by 13 | Viewed by 4060
Abstract
This study identifies an integrated model of a firm’s sustainable competitive advantages that helps understand how market orientation is related to an organization’s sustainable competitive advantage. An empirical test of the proposed framework utilized data from 312 top management team members or project [...] Read more.
This study identifies an integrated model of a firm’s sustainable competitive advantages that helps understand how market orientation is related to an organization’s sustainable competitive advantage. An empirical test of the proposed framework utilized data from 312 top management team members or project managers in Korea to access and evaluate resource input levels, organizational capabilities, and overall environmental contexts; it indicates that market and technological resource input and marketing and innovative capabilities mediate the positive impact of market orientation on a firm’s competitive advantages. The findings suggested that technological turbulence’s moderating role weakened the positive effect of technological resource input on innovative capability. Contrastingly, market turbulence has not moderated the influence of market resource input on marketing capability. The results call on management to understand the internal market orientation process to enhance the presence of environmental turbulences in industries, thus increasing the competitive advantage of firms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in Small Businesses and Sustainability)
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16 pages, 414 KiB  
Article
Sustainability of Cluster Organizations as Open Innovation Intermediaries
by Anna Maria Lis, Marita McPhillips and Adrian Lis
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10520; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410520 - 16 Dec 2020
Cited by 5 | Viewed by 2329
Abstract
The purpose of the paper is to identify the most important open innovation practices used by cluster organizations (COs). To reflect these practices, the paper uses the concept of the trajectory of relationship development in COs, applied in the Interizon cluster organization. Additionally, [...] Read more.
The purpose of the paper is to identify the most important open innovation practices used by cluster organizations (COs). To reflect these practices, the paper uses the concept of the trajectory of relationship development in COs, applied in the Interizon cluster organization. Additionally, this paper introduces the potential sustainability-related implications of open innovation adoption in cluster organizations. An in-depth direct interview and secondary data analysis were the basic techniques used for data collection. The study demonstrates that cluster organizations can play the role of open innovation intermediaries, implementing a set of different open innovation practices, depending on the level of advancement of cluster cooperation. The use of these practices leads to the development of ever stronger relationships between cluster members, thus conditioning access to the increasingly valuable resources of information and knowledge which are most relevant for the future sustainability-pursuing context. The good effects of multidimensional cooperation in the studied cluster organization prompted the authors to formulate a recommendation for sustainable diversity in the CO. The research goes beyond the state-of-the-art knowledge in the concept of industrial clusters by exposing a broader view on cooperation developed within cluster organizations. The study links the issue of clustering with the concept of open innovation, shedding new light on the processes of supporting knowledge and information flows in COs. Additionally, it contributes to developing a broader comprehension of the context dependencies of open innovation for potential sustainable innovation. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in Small Businesses and Sustainability)
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26 pages, 2032 KiB  
Article
Maintaining Sustainable Practices in SMEs: Insights from Sweden
by Desislava Tsvetkova, Emma Bengtsson and Susanne Durst
Sustainability 2020, 12(24), 10242; https://doi.org/10.3390/su122410242 - 8 Dec 2020
Cited by 21 | Viewed by 7016
Abstract
By addressing the scarce knowledge of sustainability practices in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the purpose of the paper is to identify drivers for the maintenance of such practices and their extent. Based on a series of semi-structured interviews conducted with small Swedish [...] Read more.
By addressing the scarce knowledge of sustainability practices in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the purpose of the paper is to identify drivers for the maintenance of such practices and their extent. Based on a series of semi-structured interviews conducted with small Swedish firms, our findings reveal certain external (i.e., suppliers and customers) and internal (i.e., employees, organizational culture, and competitive advantage) factors that are strongly linked to the maintenance of sustainability practices. Apart from these, the longevity of the business was identified as an additional sustainability maintenance factor. This factor has not been discussed previously in the literature, so given its strength, we suggest to have it stand separately. The findings further indicate that Swedish SMEs are not limited by size concerning their sustainability practices but they are consciously working on progressing in their efforts. Furthermore, drawing on our findings we provide practical implications that will help business owners’, managers, and policymakers to better enable sustainability practices. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in Small Businesses and Sustainability)
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19 pages, 302 KiB  
Article
Sustainable Innovations in Small Enterprises for the Transformation of the Primary Healthcare Sector
by Maria Emilsson, Ulf Ernstson, Linn Gustavsson and Ann Svensson
Sustainability 2020, 12(16), 6391; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12166391 - 7 Aug 2020
Cited by 9 | Viewed by 3057
Abstract
Small enterprises face multiple and complex challenges when developing digital technologies. The aim of this article is to explore the role of sustainable innovation in small enterprises in relation to the ongoing transformation of the primary healthcare sector. The purpose is to gain [...] Read more.
Small enterprises face multiple and complex challenges when developing digital technologies. The aim of this article is to explore the role of sustainable innovation in small enterprises in relation to the ongoing transformation of the primary healthcare sector. The purpose is to gain understanding of innovation processes within the framework of sustainable development, applied to a local primary healthcare center. Data were collected through seven semi-structured interviews. A qualitative thematic analysis was conducted. Five themes appeared in relation to the ongoing transformation of the primary healthcare sector: (1) The process of sustainable innovation in a long-term perspective; (2) the companies’ views on innovations in healthcare; (3) effects of innovations in healthcare; (4) sustainable product or service development, and (5) the role of collaboration in the innovation process. The companies expressed a positive attitude to new innovations, as a natural part of developing the companies. The article concludes that incremental development of tools in small businesses supports the transformation of processes and services in the primary healthcare sector. Cross-disciplinary teams in collaboration facilitates the necessary learning and the required creation and sharing of knowledge. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in Small Businesses and Sustainability)
16 pages, 259 KiB  
Article
Sustainable Wine Tourism Development: Case Studies from the Greek Region of Peloponnese
by Dimitris Karagiannis and Theodore Metaxas
Sustainability 2020, 12(12), 5223; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12125223 - 26 Jun 2020
Cited by 63 | Viewed by 7605
Abstract
Even though Greece has had an agriculture-oriented economy for decades, recently it has relied heavily on tourism, which now constitutes 30% of the national GDP. Successful developmental synergies of tertiary and primary sectors are still in question. Sustainability practices are still in their [...] Read more.
Even though Greece has had an agriculture-oriented economy for decades, recently it has relied heavily on tourism, which now constitutes 30% of the national GDP. Successful developmental synergies of tertiary and primary sectors are still in question. Sustainability practices are still in their infant stage in both sectors of the economy, preventing development. This paper aims to study the relationship between tourism and sustainability in wine-related enterprises in Greece. This is achieved through an examination of the successful business practices of Greek wineries from the leading wine-producing region of the Peloponnese and the impact of sustainability toward their operational practices. Many studies have related sustainability to the wine industry and have recognized that for most wine-related practitioners, the first priority is leaving the land in a better shape for the next generation. The study focuses on illustrative successful Greek wineries that participate in the “Peloponnesian wine routes” cluster. Data were gathered from multiple sources, including secondary data, company records, internet information, face-to-face interviews and on-site observations. The analysis of data revealed a number of aspects between the sustainable wine tourism business practices explored and the way that innovation has evolved. Further studies on common denominators and distinguishing criteria between sustainable business practices would be valuable to researchers and practitioners, destination management organizations and regional development policy makers. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in Small Businesses and Sustainability)
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17 pages, 770 KiB  
Article
Social Capital and Sustainable Innovation in Small Businesses: Investigating the Role of Absorptive Capacity, Marketing Capability and Organizational Learning
by Lu Xin, Fangcheng Tang, Shuwei Zhang and Zhen Pan
Sustainability 2020, 12(9), 3759; https://doi.org/10.3390/su12093759 - 6 May 2020
Cited by 11 | Viewed by 3919
Abstract
Facing resource constraints and fierce competition, it is relatively difficult for small firms to achieve product innovation to gain sustainable development independently. Previous studies have explored the positive relationship between social capital and product innovation, yet there is still a lack of a [...] Read more.
Facing resource constraints and fierce competition, it is relatively difficult for small firms to achieve product innovation to gain sustainable development independently. Previous studies have explored the positive relationship between social capital and product innovation, yet there is still a lack of a comprehensive understanding of the underlying mechanism and the boundary conditions. Drawing upon the dynamic capabilities framework, we expect that absorptive capacity and marketing capability will mediate the relationship between social capital and new product development. Moreover, since product innovation is considered a process of learning, we also examine the moderating effects of explorative learning, and exploitative learning within moderated mediation models. Employing a sample of 221 small firms based in China, we find that social capital is indeed positively associated with new product development and is simultaneously fully mediated by absorptive capacity and marketing capability. Furthermore, the impact of absorptive capacity on new product development is amplified when a condition of explorative learning exists. This study, therefore, advances the current understanding on the predictors of innovation and enriches the dynamic capabilities theory, and also provides empirical support for the sustainable development of small firms. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Innovations in Small Businesses and Sustainability)
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